1. What is the Zadroga Act?
The Zadroga Act is named after James Zadroga, an NYPD Detective who died in 2006 from respiratory failure linked to 9/11 dust exposure. It provided initial funding for two separate but related federal benefit programs: The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). Since then, it was reauthorized in 2015 and made permanent in 2019.
2. What is the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act”?
This Act (named after responders who paved the way for funding prior to succumbing to 9/11-related illnesses) allows for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) to accept claims until 2090.
3. Are psychological conditions, such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression covered under the Zadroga Act?
Yes, but only for medical monitoring, treatment, and medication through the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP). Since psychological conditions are not covered by the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), there is no financial compensation available.
4. What is the difference between the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)?
The WTCHP provides free medical monitoring, treatment, and medication for physical and psychological conditions whereas the VCF provides financial compensation for physical conditions. Each program is operated by different government agencies and has different eligibility criteria.
5. What is the relationship between the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)?
They are two separate benefit programs having similar but different eligibility criteria and application processes. Registering for one program does not mean you are registered for the other and you must apply separately to each. WTCHP physicians determine and certify if 9/11 dust exposure likely caused or contributed to your conditions.
Certification letters are then issued and may include both physical and psychological conditions, but only physical conditions are eligible for financial compensation under the VCF. At least one 9/11 physical condition must be certified before your claim for financial compensation can be submitted to the VCF (unless the claim is for a deceased victim).
6. Do I need to enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) to be eligible for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)?
Yes, all VCF claimants must be enrolled in the WTCHP and have their 9/11-related physical conditions certified prior to submitting a claim for financial compensation to the VCF. There are exceptions that depend on individual circumstances, such as physical incapacitation or if there is no WTCHP clinic within a reasonable distance from your home. If you are filing a claim for a deceased victim who never enrolled in the WTCHP, then the claim can proceed with supporting medical records.
7. Which conditions are covered under the Zadroga Act?
Conditions covered under the Act include but are not limited to:
- Physical conditions, such as cancers, lung diseases, and respiratory illnesses are covered for medical monitoring, treatment, and medication through the WTCHP and are eligible for financial compensation from the VCF.
- Psychological conditions, such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression are covered for medical monitoring, treatment, and medication through the WTCHP but are not eligible for financial compensation from the VCF.
8. What is the difference between the VCF NYC Exposure Zone and the WTCHP NYC Disaster Area?
It is possible for survivors to be eligible for free medical monitoring, treatment, and medication through the WTCHP and be ineligible for compensation from the VCF, depending on where the survivor was located. So, if you were never in the VCF NYC Exposure Zone but were present in the WTCHP Disaster Area, then you may be eligible for the WTCHP but not the VCF.
ALL cancers are covered but some common ones are:
- Skin (basal, squamous, and melanoma)
10. Are autoimmune diseases covered by the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) or the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)?
No. However, researchers are currently looking into the connection between 9/11 toxic dust exposure and various autoimmune diseases. A 2015 study concluded that rheumatoid arthritis was the most common autoimmune diagnosis (37% of subjects), followed by spondyloarthritis (22%), inflammatory myositis (14%), systemic lupus erythematosus (12%), systemic sclerosis (5%), Sjögren’s syndrome (5%), antiphospholipid syndrome (3%), and granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener’s) (2%).
While this particular study concluded that “prolonged work at the WTC site, independent of acute exposure, was an important predictor of post‐9/11 systemic autoimmune diseases,” currently these conditions are still not covered by either the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) or the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
11. How much are lawyer fees for 9/11 claims?
Most law firms, including ours, charge a flat 10% fee.
12. Do I need to appear in person?
Usually no. In rare cases, maybe.
13. Is it too late to file a claim?
No. Most people can still file claims — even on behalf of those who passed away years ago if they never registered or if they have no proof they were exposed.
Victim Compensation Fund
15. How much money is left in the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)?
There is as much money as necessary to pay out all claims through 2090.
16. What is the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)?
The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is a federal fund that provides compensation for physical illnesses, injuries, and deaths related to 9/11. This compensation may include pain and suffering, lost earnings, lost benefits, replacement services, reimbursement for funeral and burial expenses, and past out-of-pocket medical expenses.
17. How are 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) awards paid?
Awards are paid as a tax-free lump sum. The same individual may receive multiple payments if they suffer from new conditions or losses until the fund stops accepting claims in 2090. Wrongful death benefits extend beyond the life of a victim if it is determined their death was caused by a 9/11-related condition, such as cancer or lung disease. Therefore, it is possible for a single victim to receive multiple awards throughout their life and for their surviving family to receive another award upon their death.
18. Will the 9/11 VCF run out of funding?
No, the 9/11 VCF is fully funded by legislation.
19. Is the 9/11 VCF still open?
Yes, the 9/11 VCF is currently accepting claims through 2090.
20. Do I need a lawyer for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)?
No. As with other benefits programs or personal injury lawsuits, you are not required to have legal representation and are able to represent yourself. However, around 90% of all claimants are represented by lawyers.
21. Are there 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) deadlines?
There are two important deadlines:
- Registration: This date depends on individual circumstances. In most cases, you have two years to register from the date any government agency notified you that your physical condition was related to your 9/11 dust exposure.
- Filing: This is the date you must fully file your completed forms and all required supporting documents. It is the same for all claimants: October 1, 2090.
22. When does the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) close?
The fund closes on October 1, 2092, but all claims must be submitted by October 1, 2090.
23. Who is eligible for the 9/11 VCF?
In general, anyone who was present at one of the exposure areas between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, and has developed a 9/11-related physical condition may be eligible for free healthcare and/or financial compensation. It depends on whether eligibility criteria and deadlines are met.
Exposure areas include Lower Manhattan (usually south of Canal Street but potentially as far north as Houston Street), the Fresh Kills Landfill, piers, barges, transfer stations, garages, and morgues, or the crash sites at the Pentagon or Shanksville, PA.
24. How long do VCF claims take?
- It can take up to 2 years from the date the claim was fully submitted with all required documents (in most cases, this includes a WTCHP certification letter) to receive a decision. The process to obtain a WTCHP certification letter takes approximately 18 months and must be completed prior to submitting the VCF claim.
- Claims for deceased victims, lost earnings, and/or those requiring appeals take longer. For those suffering from a terminal illness or significant financial hardship (active eviction proceedings, foreclosure, homelessness, utility shutoff), expedited claim review for such “exigent circumstances” may be available. Expedited review requests are approved sparingly and must include ample supporting evidence.
25. Where is the VCF “NYC Exposure Zone”?
The area used to determine eligibility for financial compensation under the VCF is Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street from the Hudson River to the intersection of Canal Street and East Broadway, north on East Broadway to Clinton Street, and east on Clinton Street to the East River or any area where 9/11 debris was handled, including the Fresh Kills Landfill, piers, barges, transfer stations, garages, and morgues. However, those who lived, worked, or attended school south of Houston Street can be eligible under certain circumstances.
26. Does the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) cover psychological conditions?
No. The VCF does not provide compensation for mental health conditions related to 9/11, such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
27. Why are psychological conditions not covered by the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)?
The law only allows financial compensation from the VCF related to physical conditions. However, psychological conditions may be eligible for free medical monitoring, treatment, and medication provided by the WTCHP.
28. Can I file a VCF claim if I participate in the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) lawsuit against Saudi Arabia?
Yes. However, any compensation awarded by the court in the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (“JASTA”) lawsuit or obtained in a settlement of litigation will be considered an offset and deducted from your September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) award. This means that your potential JASTA award must be greater than your VCF award for you to realize a monetary benefit from participating in the JASTA lawsuit.
Generally, no, but this is determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on when the litigation was filed and its outcome.
30. How much can you earn from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)?
- Awards are calculated on a case-by-case basis using the following general formula:
- Economic Loss plus Non-Economic Loss minus Collateral source payments
- Economic loss is the past and future loss of earnings and the value of benefits related to employment caused by a 9/11-related physical condition. Depending on an individual’s circumstances, such as starting salary and their age at disability, economic loss awards range in the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
- Non-economic loss is awarded to compensate for the pain, suffering, and decrease in quality of life caused by 9/11-related physical conditions. The Special Master determines non-economic losses on a case-by-case basis. Generally, the more severe the injuries, the higher the non-economic loss portion of the award.
- After calculating the economic plus non-economic losses, the VCF will then subtract any collateral offsets received or eligible to be received. Collateral sources are defined to include all such sources, including life insurance, pension funds, death benefit programs, settlement payments from September 11th-related lawsuits, and payments by Federal, State, or local governments related to the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001, or debris removal.
31. Will a VCF award affect my existing disability payments?
Filing a VCF claim never affects ongoing recovery or entitlement of existing payments from Federal or State Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability, or any other similar program. However, the lost earnings portion of a VCF award may be reduced by the amount of any benefits paid by Federal, State, or local governments if related to the 9/11-related physical condition. In most cases, even if the benefits amount is greater than the lost earnings portion of a VCF award, a noneconomic award is still available.
32. How do I check my VCF claim status?
You can check by visiting vcf.gov, calling the helpline at 855-885-1555, or asking the attorney who filed your claim.
33. Can I file a VCF claim on behalf of a deceased loved one?
Yes, the personal representative of the estate of an eligible deceased loved one can file a VCF claim in most cases — even if the death occurred years ago, a prior award was issued while living, or the decedent never registered.
34. Will a VCF award affect my government benefits?
Maybe. This depends on the government program since different rules apply to each one. Our firm has an attorney on staff to help you figure this out.
35. Is the 9/11 VCF only for first responders?
No, anyone who was physically present may qualify, including area workers, residents, students, and visitors (if certain other eligibility criteria are met).
World Trade Center Health Program
36. What is the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP)?
The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) provides free medical care for 9/11 responders and survivors who meet eligibility criteria. It is a network of medical facilities that provides free medical monitoring, treatment, and medication for 9/11-related physical and psychological conditions to responders and survivors who meet eligibility criteria.
37. Where is the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) located?
The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) has locations in the New York metro area with a national provider network (NPN) in all 50 states. Locations in the NY/NJ metro area are called Clinical Centers of Excellence (CCEs) and all other locations are part of the National Provider Network (NPN).
38. Can I choose my WTCHP treatment location?
Yes, WTCHP members can choose their treatment location based on their home address.
39. Can I transfer my WTCHP treatment location?
Yes, members can generally change their treatment location one time per calendar year.
40. Who manages the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP)?
Dr. John Howard is the director of the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP). It is managed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
41. How long will World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) medical monitoring, treatment, and medication benefits be available?
Medical benefits are available until late 2090.
42. Do I need a lawyer to enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP)?
No. The WTCHP has an online application process or you can call 888-WTC-HP4U to request a hardcopy application. Pitta & Baione LLP assists all of our VCF clients with the WTCHP enrollment and certification process.
43. Are there any World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) deadlines?
No. There are no enrollment deadlines concerning the WTCHP other than its 2090 expiration date. However, there are important deadlines relating to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) that must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
44. What is the WTCHP “NYC Disaster Area”?
The area used to determine eligibility for medical monitoring, treatment, and medication is Manhattan south of Houston Street and any block in Brooklyn that is wholly or partially contained within a 1.5-mile radius of the former World Trade Center site. Responders must have been present below Canal Street. All others must have been present below Houston Street or within the 1.5-mile radius into Brooklyn.
45. What is the National Provider Network (NPN)?
The World Trade Center Health Program’s National Provider Network (NPN) provides care for 9/11 responders and survivors who live outside of the New York Metropolitan Area and is currently administered by MCA-Sedgwick. The NPN was designed to allow care near victims’ workplaces or residences.
It also permits continuity of care in the event of a change in residence. If you live in an urban area, the NPN will try to find care for you within 30 miles or less of your residence. If you live in a rural area, the NPN will try to find care for you within 70 miles or less of your residence.
46. How much does the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) cost?
There are no out-of-pocket costs for members who:
- Use healthcare providers approved by the WTCHP for eligible medical evaluation, monitoring, and treatment; and
- Use pharmacies that participate in the WTCHP to fill any prescriptions for a 9/11-related health condition by an approved WTCHP healthcare provider.
47. Does the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) replace my current health insurance?
No. The WTCHP does not replace your current health insurance because it will only cover costs associated with conditions determined to be related to 9/11 dust exposure. You must show proof of existing health insurance to receive benefits from the WTCHP.
48. How do I know if I’m enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP)?
If you are unsure if you are enrolled, call the WTCHP at 888-982-4748 to find out. It is possible you were automatically enrolled into the WTCHP due to your prior membership in one of two earlier programs known as the WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program (“MMTP”) and the WTC Environmental Health Center Community Program (“WTC EHC”).
The MMTP was for responders and volunteers while the WTC EHC was for survivors, area residents, and residents. These programs were both replaced by and merged into the WTCHP in 2011. Most members were automatically rolled over into the WTCHP.
49. What healthcare benefits does the World Trade Center Health Program provide?
- The WTCHP provides medical monitoring, treatment, and medication for emergency responders, recovery, and cleanup workers, and volunteers who helped after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Shanksville, PA crash site.
- The WTCHP also provides health evaluations and treatment for survivors, i.e., those who were present in the dust cloud on 9/11 or who worked, resided, or attended school, childcare, or adult daycare in the New York City disaster area for a period of time on 9/11 and/or during the following months.
- In addition to providing medical monitoring and treatment the WTCHP also provides:
- Education and outreach;
- Collection and analysis of physical and mental health data with members’ permission; and
- Research to better understand health conditions related to the attacks.
- The level of care provided by the World Trade Center Health Program (“WTCHP”) depends on whether you are classified as a Responder (you worked or volunteered in the response, recovery, or cleanup) or Survivor (you survived attacks on 9/11, worked, resided in, visited, or attended school or daycare in the Exposure Area).
Responders who enroll in the WTCHP receive annual medical monitoring regardless of whether or not they are currently diagnosed with any 9/11-related conditions. If you have any health conditions certified as 9/11-related as defined by the Zadroga Act (i.e., an illness or health condition for which exposure to airborne toxins, other hazards, or other adverse conditions resulting from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was substantially likely to be a significant factor in aggravating, contributing to, or causing the illness or health condition), the WTCHP healthcare providers will provide medical treatment and medication for the 9/11-related health condition.
Survivors who enroll in the WTCHP will receive an initial health evaluation to determine if they have a health condition eligible for coverage. If you have a health condition that is considered 9/11-related, your physician will request that the WTCHP certify your condition as eligible for treatment.
If the WTCHP agrees with your physician and determines you have a health condition that is certified as a 9/11-related health condition as defined by the Zadroga Act (i.e., an illness or health condition for which exposure to airborne toxins, other hazards, or other adverse conditions resulting from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was substantially likely to be a significant factor in aggravating, contributing to, or causing the illness or health condition), then the WTCHP healthcare providers will provide medical treatment and medication for the 9/11-related health condition.
50. Is there a research element to the World Trade Center Health Program?
In addition to providing healthcare for eligible individuals with 9/11-related health conditions, the WTCHP collects voluntarily provided health data from WTCHP members to be used in studying and understanding the health effects of 9/11 toxins.
51. How do I update the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) about my newly diagnosed condition?
Contact your WTCHP treatment center to notify them. If you were treated for this new condition by private physicians, it may help to bring diagnostic medical records along with you to the appointment.
52. Does the World Trade Center Health Program provide dental health benefits?
Yes, but only if the specific dental care is related to a certified cancer. It is not provided for GERD.
Yes, if the treatment has been shown to manage, cure, or improve a non-covered condition that was caused by a 9/11-related condition. For example, peripheral neuropathy caused by treatment of 9/11-related cancer may be eligible, whereas peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes would not.
54. Do I have to travel to New York City for treatment by the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP)?
No. You will have access to the WTCHP’s National Provider Network (NPN). This national network provides care in all 50 states for responders and survivors who live outside of the New York Metropolitan Area.
55. Are over-the-counter medications covered by the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP)?
Yes. If your WTCHP doctor prescribes you an over-the-counter (OTC) medication, it will be filled by the pharmacist the same as any other prescription; the WTCHP will pay out-of-pocket costs. This means commonly prescribed OTC nasal sprays and proton pump inhibitors may be fully covered by the WTCHP. The WTCHP will not reimburse you for any OTC medications you purchase on your own.
56. How do I make an appointment with the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP)?
After enrolling in the WTCHP, you will be given instructions to contact your assigned clinic and schedule an appointment.
57. Can I change my World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) treatment location?
Yes. If you would like to switch, you may select another participating clinic location to provide your benefits. If you move out of the New York City Metropolitan Area, you may transfer into the Nationwide Provider Network (NPN).
Prior to making the change, you must first notify your current clinic or the NPN and have your medical records transferred to the new location to arrange an appointment. Only one transfer per year is allowed, except under special circumstances.
58. Does the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) cover mental health issues?
Yes. The WTCHP covers mental health conditions related to 9/11, such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. However, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) does not provide compensation for mental health issues.
59. Are uterine cancers covered by the World Trade Center Health Program and/or the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund?
Yes, uterine cancers are covered by the WTCHP for treatment and the VCF for financial compensation.